Aaron and I both love Indian food. One of our favorite restaurants is an Indian restaurant in Lawrence, KS and I often fix Indian food at home. I have a large selection of Indian and curry cookbooks too. One of my all time favorite Indian cookbooks is the Best Ever Indian Cookbook. It has mostly northern Indian recipes, which is probably the style of cooking most common to Americans. And there are enough meat recipes to keep most carnivores happy and with a smile on their faces. If you are not a carnivore, either a vegetarian or just trying to cut back on meat, you can omit the meat in many of these recipes and substitute paneer (Indian cheese), boiled eggs, tofu or another kind of vegetable. The sauces tend to be what makes the dish. And I find that Indian recipes really lend themselves to substitution. Use what you have and adapt the recipe as you go along. I also find, that with a few exceptions, Indian cooking relies on spices that are most common or easily found: cumin, cilantro, green chiles, crushed red pepper, cinnamon, ginger, etc. And I have also noticed that many grocery stores, even here in Topeka Kansas, are stocking more things that used to be a bit hard to find...coconut milk, five spice powder, naan, curry pastes, etc. And you may even be lucky enough to have an Indian import shop in your area where you can buy things. We have a very nice one here in Topeka, Cosmos, where I love to shop and always find the staff to be most helpful and kind. They also offer cooking classes as well.
Tonight is Indian food night for Aaron and I. I am going to make Kashmiri chicken, curried mushrooms with coconut and curried pineapple. I'm also going to attempt making my own naan for the first time. I have the dough rising as I type. Should be a good dinner, wish some of you fine readers were here to enjoy it with us. These recipes all came from the Best Ever Indian Cookbook, as referenced above. If you like doing Indian cooking, I highly recommend this book. Enjoy! (I know Aaron and I enjoyed both cooking and eating these foods!)
2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. dry yeast
4 tbsp. warm milk
8 tbsp. warm water (more or less)
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 tbsp. plain yogurt
2-3 tbsp. melted butter or ghee, for brushing the breads
Place the yeast in the warmed milk and allow to sit for about 15 minutes. to give the yeast time to activate. Then place in a large bowl with everything except the water and melted butter. Mix and add the water, about 2 tbsp. at a time until you have a soft dough. Knead about 15 minutes, until very smooth and elastic. Allow to rise, covered, in a warm place for an hour or so, until doubled. When double, preheat the oven to the highest setting, at the very least 450 degrees. If you have a baking stone, it is perfect for baking these. But if not, place one or two baking sheets into the oven to heat. When the oven is hot, knead the dough another couple of minutes, then divide into four balls. Roll each ball out on a floured board about 1/4-1/3 inch thick. Place each two rounds of dough on each baking sheet and return to the oven, baking 3-4 minutes, or until puffed up. Remove from the oven and place under the broiler for a few seconds or until the top is slightly browned. Brush with the melted butter or ghee and serve warm. Makes 4 breads, enough for 2-4 people, depending on how hearty their appetite is.
Kashmiri Chicken Curry
4 tsp. curry paste
4 tbsp. tomato ketchup
1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp. five spice powder
1 tsp. white sugar
8 pieces of chicken, skinned (I used a package of boneless thighs)
2 inch piece of fresh ginger root
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro
salt to taste
Make a marinade of the following: curry paste, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, five spice powder, sugar and a pinch of salt. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Then rub this mixture over the chicken pieces and allow to sit in the refrigerature for about 2 hour or overnight. Allow to sit on the counter about 10-15 minutes before cooking.
Peel and then grate the ginger root. Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet and fry half of the ginger with the crushed garlic until golden. Take care not to scorch it. Add the chicken with any marinade and fry until the chicken is sealed on all sides. Cover and cook until the chicken is tender and the oil begins to separate from the sauce.
Sprinkle the chicken with the lemon juice, remaining ginger and the chopped cilantro. Mix well. Serve hot with plain rice and/or naan.
Spiced Coconut Mushrooms
2 tbsp. vegetable ooil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 fresh red or green chiles, seeded and chopped (more if you like it really hot)
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
3 cups thickly sliced mushrooms (about 1/2 pound)
2/3 cup coconut milk
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
Heat the oil and stir fry the garlic and chiles a few seconds. Add the onions and continue to stir fry a few more minutes, until the onions begin to soften and color. Stir in the mushrooms and stir fry about 3 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Boil rapidly until the liquid reduces and coats the mushroom slices. It only takes a couple of minutes. Place in a serving bowl, sprinkle cilantro on top and serve hot.
Chile and Mustard Flavored Pineapple
1 lb. of fresh pineapple cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup water
2/3 cup coconut milk
1/2 tsp. ground tumeric
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. white sugar
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (or to taste)
6-8 fresh curry leaves (optional)
Put the pineapple, water, coconut milk tumeric and first 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper, salt and sugar into a large skillet or wok. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer and allow to cook about 15 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken.
Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan, heat the oil and add the mustard and cumin seeds. Stir fry until the mustard seeds begin to pop, then stir in the chopped onion. Cook about 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly, until the onion is soft and begins to color. Add the second 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper and curry leaves if using. Remove from heat and stir into the pineapple mixture. Stir well, then remove from the head. Eat hot or at room temperature.